Dreams of Infidelity

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Do you dream of being unfaithful to your partner? Are you scared that your dream of being unfaithful is going to come true? Maybe you want to deny and get rid of that shameful part of you that wants to do things that you think are so unlike the real you. After all, in your waking life nothing could be further from the truth – being unfaithful doesn’t cross your mind. You don’t catch yourself drooling over attractive people, of use the internet to cheat online. So why are having dreams of infidelity?

Dreams of infidelity are fairly common in insecure relationships

Just as he had persuaded his girlfriend to move in with him, 35-year-old Alan was shocked to have a series of dreams about being seduced by attractive women in bars and making out with them before going all the way. Alan would wake up scared because it had felt good to kiss this woman in his dream and feel her arms around him.  Sometimes in the dreams he would be going away with a sexy woman in a car and having sexual contact as if he was a single unattached male.

He hated the idea that he could want and or enjoy sexual contact with anyone but  his 34-year-old girlfriend Marcella .All day and for the rest of the week, Alan was afraid to go to sleep in case the dreams of infidelity returned. He was tortured by the fact that the dream character could come out into the real world and make him cheat on his beloved and he wouldn’t have sufficient self-control to stop that ugly part of him.

These dreams of infidelity persisted and bothered Alan greatly. The boundaries between dream experiences and real life became blurred until he couldn’t tell the difference. In his waking life he was terrified that the dreams would spill out and become real, ruining his life with Marcella who knew nothing of these persistent and disturbing dreams.  He was terrified that this bad, shameful part of him would take over and demolish the precious connection he had with Marcella, who would then abandon him.

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Dreams of infidelity – why was Alan haunted by them?

In his waking life Alan was determined to be perfect – to never feel angry, lusty, envious, or irresponsible. He didn’t want to be like his dad who had had a love child outside his marriage after cheating on Alan’s mother. So he put himself in an emotional strait jacket that prevented him from being human and having the full range of feelings. He wanted to be the complete opposite of his father, not realizing that it was normal to be envious, angry and irresponsible from time to time without acting on it by being unfaithful and selfish. Understanding his underlying motives in psychotherapy helped Alan see that the dreams of infidelity were signs that he was constricting himself, wanting to break out and do things that he had forbidden himself – and that if he didn’t loosen up, he would burst out of the strait jacket and do something unbelievably horrendous that he’d never forgive himself for. That meant allowing himself to be authentic and natural in a way that was uniquely him – rather than force himself into a mold of being ‘anti-father.’ Freeing himself in that way was scary to Alan, but as his psychotherapy made him feel safer and more comfortable with being himself, these dreams of infidelity disappeared.

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Dreams of infidelity plagued Sara

Three years into her marriage 30-year-old Sara had recurrent dreams of being unfaithful to her 33-year-old husband Scott who was apparently devoted to her, and was utterly trustworthy. At first, Sara ignored her dreams of infidelity. They were just dreams, not worth her time or energy – except that each time she woke up having had a dream of being unfaithful she felt dirty, shameful, and unworthy of Scott’s attentiveness and care. She couldn’t understand why she was having dreams of infidelity because she was happy with the sex life she shared with Scott.

But the dreams of infidelity didn’t stop

And in fact became more frequent. It got so bad that Sara tried using alcohol and sleeping pills to put her into non REM sleep so that she wouldn’t dream! That didn’t work either, because she still woke up with that sense of shame that she could be thrilled with her infidelity in the dreams. Sara tried meditation, yoga and practicing mindfulness to drive out the unfaithful part of her that turned up in her dreams. She hoped that staying physically close to Scott would counteract this awful part of her that went crazy off the rails in her dreams of infidelity. To make it worse it was the married part of her that was being unfaithful in the dreams, making the whole experience feel calculated and cruel to the waking Sara.

Guilt engulfed Sara’s waking days, and when it came to making love with Scott, she felt like a cheater and undeserving to be pleasured by him. A huge conflict flared up for Sara who felt she was unclean and step away from Scott to as not to harm him; yet at the same time she felt drawn to him as if his presence would be the shield that would protect her from her unsavory dreams of infidelity.

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Dream analysis and interpretation is an important part of self-growth and relationship security

Sara chose to get to the bottom of these dreams which felt like nightmares in her therapy with me. She told me that in her dreams of infidelity she was with a man that was non-traditional, exciting and adventurous. He seemed like the same man but looked different in various dreams. He was always welcoming and awakened her to the locked up sexuality that she didn’t dare show Scott in case he thought she was promiscuous or unsatisfied by him.  However in the therapeutic work, the sexual awakening in the dream stood in for the awakening, freeing and expressing of Sara’s identity as a woman who was also a free thinking spirit. It was too dangerous for her to have her own mind in waking life, because she was supposed to be a ‘good girl’, grateful for what she had and just get on with it. But that way of living stifled her creative energy, her inner strength and ability to be fully herself and a part of a loving couple.

Dreams of infidelity for Sara were pictures of her need to be more adventurous, expansive and creative in her spiritual life and in that of relationships. The man in the dream was the adventurous and creative part of her, inviting her out for a test drive. Now it was time to buy the car and drive it herself in her real life.


copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2018

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